Sunday, February 5, 2017

Visit to Charming Villedieu and Pizza at Maison Bleue

One of our favorite villages near Sablet is Villedieu, a small village (population 514) built on a hill overlooking vineyards, olive groves and pine trees near the Eygues River on the border of the Drôme Provençale. Villedieu is located about 7 1/2 miles northwest of Sablet in the direction you would take if you were headed to Nyons.

Villedieu village

In the center of Villedieu is a square, with a fountain and plane trees, called Place de la Liberation. The Mairie (town hall), a café, a crêperie, and an excellent pizzaria called La Maison Bleue are situated on the sides of the square.

During warm weather between March and October, the square becomes a grand terrace shared by the café and restaurants. Tables and chairs are arranged around the fountain with the area for the café and each restaurant defined by the color of chairs.

Place de la Liberation

Villedieu dates back to medieval times when the village was a Commandery of Knights Templar who owned a chateau with a single tower. The village was founded during a time when potential invaders would come around so defensive fortifications were built which you can see as you stroll around the village.

Arched entry into center of Villedieu

The village walls are over 32 feet tall. Restored at different times, there are three majestic gates off Place de la Liberation. The middle gate seen below is topped by a belfry with a clock on the face which dates from the 12th century. On the arch is the papal coat of arms, the only authentic papal coat of arms still in place in the Vaucluse.

14th century town gate

Villedieu street with Saint Michel Church donjon in background

In the heart of Villedieu is Saint Michel Church with a 60 foot tall donjon (keep) and bell tower built on the nave of the church. At the top of the bell tower, there are three openings, each with a bell. The church is Romanesque and dates from the 10th and 12th centuries with later additions.

12th century Saint Michel Church

The oldest known relics (flint tools and weapons) discovered in Villedieu date the first settlement back to the Palaeolithic age. They say the odds are high that Villedieu was originally a Gallo-Roman villa near Vasio (Vaison La Romaine) bearing the name Villa Dei. There is no written account of the origin of its name, but probably, Villedieu, comes from the Latin "villa", which means country house and "dei" which means god.

14th century town gate

Villedieu became part of the "Comtat Venaissin" and annexed to France in 1791.

Villedieu street with chateau tower in distance

One of the great things about Villedieu is that although it is quite well known to locals, it is largely undiscovered by tourists as there is no mention of the village in the Michelin Green Guide and just one sentence in Rick Steve's infamous blue book about Provence.

Villedieu defensive wall

Statue in alcove on corner of building

Although we think Villedieu is a charming village, we go to Villedieu to eat at La Maison Bleue, a pizzaria owned by chef Daniel Roger. From a small kitchen with a large pizza oven he built, he turns out a variety of salads, large enough to share, and pizzas with a variety of toppings on dough that is perfectly blistered by the pizza oven. He also offers pastas and other specials. During the summer, he offers a selection of grilled meats.

Grandson Caedon next to defensive walls with Villedieu coat of arms and sign which reads "Don't Irritate the Lion

We have become friends with Chef Daniel as we go frequently to Maison Bleue during the months the restaurant is open. March, April, May, June, September and October, Maison Bleue is open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday. July and August, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

La Maison Bleue Restaurant

We really like the large salads offered at Maison Bleue. Two in particular. The first is a salad called La Montagnard, with greens, a whole roasted Camembert cheese topped with tomatoes and pine nuts. Slices of toasted bread accompanies the salad; wonderful for spreading with the warm, oozing cheese.

Our other favorite salad is La Campagnard salad seen below, with greens, toasted wheat bread spread with chèvre cheese, toasted pine nuts, honey and herbs de Provence.

La Campagnard Salad

Pizza's are quite large so we usually end up sharing, That evening we shared one of our favorite pizza, a thin-crusted round pizza called l'Indigo, which is covered with tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella, chèvre, Roquefort, and herbs de Provence.

L'Indigo Pizza

We finished our meal by sharing a trilogy of ice creams; pistachio, coffee and chocolate. A perfect way to end a meal at Maison Bleue.

Trio of ice creams

Granddaughter Avery next to defensive walls with Villedieu coat of arms and sign which reads "Don't Irritate the Lion"

If you are in Sablet or the surrounding area between March and October, and looking for a tasty but simple meal, we highly recommend La Maison Bleue in Villedieu. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially during warm weather when Place de la Liberation becomes a grand terrace shared by the café and 2 restaurants.

Sitting under the plane trees with family and friends on the square during a spring, summer or early fall evening is a magical experience and makes the food and wine taste extra good.

La Maison Bleue
Place de la Libération
84110 Villedieu
Tel: +33 4 90 28 97 02

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